I read that you initially turned down 'Crumbs.' What changed your mind?
What changed my mind was actually reading the script, which I thought was just extraordinary and, more importantly, something unique that I hadn't read in a pilot before. The tone of it, the way it balanced the comedy and drama so seamlessly, the rhythms of it, the way the comedy was presented -- it wasn't in that typical gag-a-minute pattern that's come to define TV sitcom.
In a review of the show, a TV critic called it a "sadcom." And the show does contain quite a lot of pathos.
I wouldn't necessarily say it's sad, but this is a show that's about a very fractured family that's gone through a lot of pain. The comedy comes from their pain, but at the same time, it deals with their pain in a very real way. You know, it's just not a goofy sitcom.
So you're trying to push the envelope?
A lot of people say, "Oh, the sitcom is dead." I think they're right to some extent, in that the shows they're putting out are the same. There's a rhythm that's come to define TV sitcom that we're trying to shake up a bit. We're playing it a lot more honestly. We're borrowing from the traditions that were established by shows like 'Soap' or 'All in the Family.' If you set up real characters and you care about them, the comedy is going to be that much sweeter. It'll be earned in a much more genuine way than to have goofs and gags and pratfalls. Values Fi > Fe? Also, notice he is talking here again about rhythm. What does that imply?
Did you have any reservations about playing a gay character?
No, none at all. It seems very odd when everyone asks me that. I've played murderers and rapists and really horrible people and no one's ever once asked me if I've had reservations about playing those people. I liked that [Mitch] was this closeted gay man. I also thought there wasn't a gay character like that on television. This character is a lot more internal. He doesn't know how he feels about his sexuality, he doesn't necessarily want to be gay at times and he doesn't embrace that lifestyle.
Mitch will be coming out to his family soon. Can you tell me more about that?
It's not like he gets everyone together and makes this announcement. To each of the family members, he comes out in a different way. Sometimes, it's forced upon him, other times he chooses it.
Are you still directing?
Not while I'm doing 'Crumbs.' We just finished [filming], now that we're done I'll be directing more. The schedule is too busy when we're shooting. I'm going back to work for Nickelodeon and doing shows for them.
Everybody Hates Chris
OK, we like to ask this of our Tattlers when we can. What are your five favorite shows, past or present?
Past or present? That's big. I would have to do five past and five present. Five past would be 'Cheers,' 'Mary Tyler Moore,' 'M*A*S*H,' 'The Ben Stiller Show' and, ah, gosh...
What about present?
'Grey's Anatomy,' huge favorite of ours. I have to check my [Tivo] season passes. Oh, 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.' 'Project Runway.' 'TRL.' Let's see... 'Everybody Hates Chris.'
That's another show that's not quite a regular sitcom.
It's a single-camera show. People call them sitcoms, but when I think of sitcoms, I think of your traditional multi-camera set-up. These new shows that are single-camera comedies, that's how the 'Wonder Years' was done. I wouldn't lump 'Scrubs' and 'My Name is Earl' with 'King of Queens.' I don't consider those the same kind of show. I call the multi-camera shows sitcoms, and the single-camera shows are comedies. That's just my own personal distinction. Comment: From a purely functional standpoint, this sounds incredibly Ni, perhaps Ni+Te ~ but this isn't enough to type someone on.
I agree, but the word "sitcom" is just so ubiquitous.
Well, as a journalist, you can make that change!